‘I always find it especially hard in winter to heat my rented house as its old’ (Lone parent supported by SVP)
Everyone deserves a home that they can afford to heat and light, where their health and wellbeing won’t be compromised. Despite signs of economic recovery, many households continue to struggle to make ends meet, for whom opening the electricity or gas bill is a real cause of anxiety as they wonder how they will be able to pay the bill.
Over a quarter of households live in energy poverty, with high energy costs, low income, and energy inefficient housing being the main contributing factors. Between 2008 and 2015, the proportion of individuals who reported they were unable to afford to keep their house warm increased by 145%.
A number of initiatives under the Better Homes scheme have been introduced by the government and have worked to improve the energy efficiency of thousands of homes. These have been expanded in recent months, but tend to target homeowners. Those in rented accommodation are twice as likely to live in a home with a poor energy efficiency rating than a homeowner.
Within the current housing crisis and shortage of accommodation, SVP members are increasingly receiving requests from people making do with substandard, inadequate housing conditions, too afraid to raise their concerns with their landlords over fear of eviction. Regulation around minimum energy efficiency in the private rental sector is needed to address such situations. The Better Energy Warmer Home Scheme should also be expanded to include landlords who agree to make their property available to those in receipt of Housing Assistance Payment.
SVP recognise however, that even at the highest efficiency level examined, social welfare dependent households tend to remain in energy poverty and face inadequate income. Consequently, policy must address both overall income adequacy and dwelling efficiency.
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